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Dying to Dance

Dying to Dance

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Dying to Dance

200 pagine
2 ore
Oct 1, 2015


Char and Diana Mansville, two sisters in their early twenties, lose their parents in a tragic accident. Finding themselves on the brink of financial disaster, they re-locate to southwest Florida to live with their aunt, a beautiful and wealthy ballroom dancer.
Once there, they meet handsome and charismatic Roland Donovan, who is a sociopath and involved in a deadly insurance scheme. Stricken by Diana's beauty and charm, he sets his focus upon her and relentlessly begins his pursuit of her.

Oct 1, 2015

Informazioni sull'autore

Weslynn McCallister, pseudonym, Jamie Cortland was born in Evansville, Indiana and raised in Roswell, New Mexico. A published novelist and an award winning poet, she is a member of Sisters in Crime, the Mystery Writers of America, and is a founding member of the Florida Writers Association. Educated in the fine arts, she has worked as a high fashion model, graphic designer, and as a real estate agent. Her hobby is ballroom dancing. Today, she lives in southwest Florida near the Gulf of Mexico.

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Dying to Dance - Jamie Cortland


Chapter 1


Daniel came home late—later than he should have. Molly had already left for work. Before leaving, she’d fed the kids and sat them down in front of the TV. Normally, Daniel would have been home hours ago, but today he’d stopped for a beer, something he hadn’t done for months. Even though he knew she’d be mad at him, especially when he told her he’d been fired, he’d needed some time to himself.

Daniel suffered from schizoaffective mental disorder, and until recently had been taking his meds regularly. But a couple of months ago, he’d gone off them when he started to hear the voices, and began to self-medicate with alcohol. On a positive note, his sex drive had come back, and he’d even lost weight. Molly had liked that. But what she didn’t like were his mood swings—his highs and lows. Sometimes he could be mean, bordering on destructive.

He knew he should go back on his meds, but he felt that if he did, Molly would complain about their lack of a sex life and that he was getting fat again. There was, he felt, just no way of pleasing that woman.

That afternoon at work, he’d decked his boss for something he’d been asked to do and that he felt was personally demeaning. What did his boss think he was, his personal slave? Shortly after the incident, Ed had told him to leave, never to come back. Fine, he’d thought. He’d stomped out to his car, opened the trunk, and proceeded to smash the boss’s car with a tire iron he’d retrieved.

Following that, he’d stopped at a bar, and as soon as he got home, he went to the fridge in search of a beer. Usually, Molly would keep one or two in the fridge for herself, but tonight there were none.

That does it! he exclaimed. The kids are going to bed right now and I’m going out.

After putting the kids to bed, Daniel abruptly left the house, got into his old Ford sedan, and headed for the bar near Pinnacle Peak.

Chapter 2

The Accident

Today was David and Jocelyn’s thirtieth wedding anniversary. Their children, Diana and Char, had originally planned on giving their parents a huge party to celebrate the occasion. But those plans were cancelled when their parents had told them that they preferred to dine alone with each other that night, at the restaurant where they had first met.

The restaurant, rustic and just as western as Scottsdale had once been, was just a short drive from their house. Knowing that if David wore a tie the waiters would cut it off—which was the custom of the restaurant—they both dressed casually in their western wear. David wore his black denims, boots, shirt, and cowboy hat, while Jocelyn wore her black denims, boots, and frilly white western shirt. She’d always hated hats and never wore them. A good-looking couple in their early fifties, they’d always attracted attention when they went out. Tonight would be no exception.

David had once suffered from a drinking problem, but after nearly losing his family and his business to this addiction, he had since joined a support group. A successful recovering alcoholic, he was now a sponsor to several younger men who suffered from this same addiction. Tonight at dinner, he retained his usual sobriety. However, knowing Jocelyn would on occasion enjoy a glass of red wine with dinner, he offered to order a glass for her. She politely declined, saying that she preferred coffee instead. After dinner, as they walked across the parking lot to their car, they noticed it had begun to rain, something that seldom happened outside of the monsoon season.

I don’t remember where we parked our car, and it’s dark tonight.

Very. It’s a new moon and raining on top of that. I’ll certainly be glad when we get back home.

Me too.

Hearing a screech of brakes, David quickly looked to his side to see a dark car that had just pulled into the parking lot and was rapidly bearing down upon them. The driver of the car braked, but it was too late.


Daniel had pulled into the parking lot too fast and was unable to control his vehicle. It was dark, raining, and he couldn’t see clearly in his inebriated condition. He thought he saw two people ahead of him and he braked, but he skidded and felt the car hit something. Afraid to stop for fear of what he might have done, he raced out of the parking lot and sped back down the road the way he had come. He still wasn’t able to see well; the rain was coming down harder and his vision had grown more blurry. Thinking he knew where the shoulder was, he attempted to pull the car over, but the shoulder wasn’t there and his car went over and rolled down the hillside. Everything went black, and Daniel never woke up again.

Chapter 3


As Diana was sprinkling spices on the brisket and adding barbecue sauce for the evening dinner, she couldn’t help but notice how quiet it was in the house this morning—too quiet. Usually, her mother was up brewing coffee by now. Diana put her concerns aside for the moment. She shrugged and figured maybe her parents were sleeping in after a late night.

Diana had just placed the brisket into the oven when the doorbell rang. Setting the hot pads down, she hurried to answer the door. When she saw the tall, uniformed officer standing in the doorway, her heart immediately began to race as she sensed something was wrong.

Ms. Mansville, I’m Officer Patrick of the Paradise Valley Police Department. You are Ms. Mansville, aren’t you?

Yes. What’s wrong?

It’s about a Mr. and Mrs. David Mansville, who I assume are your parents. They were killed early this morning around two in a hit-and-run accident.

Oh my God! Diana’s shoulders fell and she covered her eyes with her hands.

I need you to come down to the morgue to identify the bodies.

This just can’t be true.

I’m sorry, but I’m afraid it is, miss.

Are you sure you have identified them correctly?

Yes, by the driver’s licenses that they were carrying. But we will need you or your sister to come down and identify the bodies.

Diana was struggling now to choke back tears. Trembling, she sobbed, Oh God, I can’t believe it. Inhaling deeply, she looked up at the officer. I will come down myself and do this. I am the oldest.

The officer nodded. I understand. Ma’am, you’re shaking; I don’t think you should be driving a vehicle right now. Is there someone you can call to take you to the morgue at the hospital?

Yes, officer. I think my boyfriend, Wyatt Harper, might be able to take me. My parents were friends of his and he can also help identify them. I’ll call him right now. Has anyone notified my sister?

Yes. According to his report, the officer who was sent to notify her believes she’s in shock and should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible. Fortunately, she was able to give the officer her doctor’s name, and he should be on his way to see her right now.

All right. Thank you, officer. Has anyone else been notified?

No. Not yet.

When I get back from the morgue, I’ll call my aunt in Florida. Otherwise, we really don’t have anyone else. My grandfather on my father’s side, Mr. Clay Mansville, is currently in Europe. I figure I should call him, too.

If you don’t mind, I’ll wait here while you call Mr. Harper, just to make sure he will be able to take you. If he can’t, I will.

Diana nodded.

After a few rings, Wyatt answered. When she heard her boyfriend’s voice, Diana immediately broke down, but somehow managed to repeat the tragic news the officer had just relayed to her. Can you help me? she concluded. Turning back to Officer Patrick, she said, He’s on his way.

Thank you, ma’am. Then I’ll be going.

The tragic reality finally set in. Mom and Dad were gone and Diana would never see them again, at least not in this life. Unbelievable. She was young, only twenty-five, and Char was younger still, which meant that except for her aunt and a grandfather who lived in Florida, she was now the oldest living person in her family. Everyone else had passed on. She also realized she would now be responsible for Char. She buried her head in her hands and began to sob, wondering how she was going to get through all this. If only her parents hadn’t gone out last night.

Chapter 4

The Morgue

Wyatt was on his way to Diana’s minutes after he received her call. Knowing her as well as he did, he knew she could be strong for a short period of time, but afterwards, more than likely, she would collapse emotionally. With the stress he knew she would be going through, including all of the issues surrounding their deaths, he suspected that her inevitable breakdown was imminent. He would be there for her, and for her sister Char, too, if she needed him. And he was certain she would.

Char had chosen a jerk for a boyfriend, one who had neglected to tell her about a wife he had in San Francisco who was carrying his child. She had recently relocated to the Valley of the Sun and was planning to move in with him. Every time he paused to reflect on the scenario, he could only shake his head. Why Char hadn’t broken off their affair once she’d learned about his wife was something neither Wyatt nor Diana could comprehend. It seemed as if she preferred to remain in a state of denial until she was forced to come face to face with the reality of her boyfriend’s lack of exclusive commitment to her. Apparently, Char was codependent on top of her many other problems, which included being a recovering alcoholic. He knew she would be worse off now that she only had Diana to rely on for support, and he worried about her continued sobriety.

To the best of his knowledge, the girls had no other siblings, no other grandparents or uncles, other than an aunt and a grandfather who had survived Hurricane Katrina and were living in Florida. Why their relatives had relocated from New Orleans, Louisiana, to Sarasota and Vero Beach, Florida—from one hurricane-prone area to another—he couldn’t fathom.

When Wyatt arrived at Diana’s condo, the door was locked. After he rang the doorbell and no one answered, he tried the key that Diana had given him months ago. After he was ultimately successful in opening the door, he walked in and found Diana curled up on the love seat, her cheeks wet with tears.

Diana, you must not have heard the doorbell. Are you all right?

She sat up, wiped her tears, and said, I didn’t hear the doorbell. I’m so glad you’re here. I don’t think I could do this by myself.

He wrapped his arms around her tightly. You’re a strong woman, Diana. If you had to do this alone, you would have found the strength to do so. But I’m here. Go and wash your face now, and get dressed.

Within a half hour they were walking into the morgue at Paradise Valley Hospital. Diana was cold and began to tremble. Her stomach lurched as she viewed the covered bodies, hoping they were not her parents.

The coroner began to draw the sheet back. I will warn you, the bodies are not in good shape.

Diana stood and stared in horror. Oh my God. She covered her mouth with her hand. In a haze of tears, she began to murmur a prayer.

Miss, I need you to confirm that these are your parents.

Yes, they are. She choked her tears down. Her stomach rolled over and bile rose to her throat. Suddenly, she turned and ran out of the morgue.


At that point, Wyatt took over. She’s right. These are the bodies of David Mansville and his wife, Irene Mansville. If you’ll excuse me for a moment, I need to go after my girlfriend to make sure she’s okay.

I understand. The women’s restroom is just outside, the pathologist told him.

After Wyatt left the morgue, he stopped and stood in the hallway for a moment, stunned by what he had just seen. He exhaled slowly and sat on the bench outside of the restrooms, fighting to control the growing nausea. Losing the battle, he rose and ran into the men’s room.


Before Diana came out of the restroom, she washed her face, combed her hair, and made herself somewhat presentable. When she saw that Wyatt wasn’t there, she assumed he’d gone into the men’s room. The morgue had a strong antiseptic smell, and looking at the bodies that once had been home to her parents’ souls had been even more overwhelming than she’d anticipated. Even Wyatt, despite his occupation as a private detective, had paled considerably at the sight. Not sure what to do next, she took a seat on the bench in the hallway and waited.

You’re looking better, Wyatt commented when he eventually came out. I was worried about you. That was a terrible experience you went through.

Having to identify my parents’ bodies would have been a shock in any case. I just didn’t think they would be in such bad condition.

Neither did I.

"I guess the next thing

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